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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “the Earth laughs in flowers.” If that is the case, the Hawaiian Islands must be the happiest places in the world.

When visiting the islands you will almost certainly see the hibiscus, a large, colorful and ornate flower, blooming from shrubs and tucked gently behind ears. Hawaiians adopted the hibiscus – in all colors — as their official Territorial flower in the early 1920s however it wasn’t until 1988 that the yellow hibiscus, specifically the Hibiscus brackenridgei was selected as Hawaii’s state flower.

Prior to being named the official state flower in 1988, many recognized the red hibiscus as the emblem of Hawaii, which is why you may to this day still find postcards boasting large illustrations of the red flower.

Also known as pua aloalo in Hawaiian, the hibiscus represents royalty and communicated power and respect. Native to the Hawaiian Islands, the Hibiscus brackenridgei is endangered, so if you encounter one, be sure to treat the plant with care.

While the hibiscus plant originated in Asia and the Pacific Islands, there are five species identified as native to Hawaii. These striking shrubs can be found in clusters or growing singularly on branches with some plants rising from 3 to 15 feet tall. While the hibiscus plant blossoms year-round, blooming season tends to take place from spring through early summer. Flowers tend to last for only about a day, making the delicate plant an even greater beauty to behold.

The hibiscus blossom appears in many diverse hues and can be found on all the main islands of Hawaii. However, no matter what island or what shade you find this plant; one thing remains the same, and that is the unparalleled beauty it displays.